On Friday, March 28, 2014, pianist Chie Nagatani, who has performed extensively throughout Canada, the U.S., Japan, Italy and Poland, and also on several recordings, joins Pasadena Community Orchestra to perform one of George Gershwin’s most successful fusions of jazz and classical music, his Piano Concerto in F Major. Unlike the earlier Rhapsody in Blue, this work is structured like a classical concerto. But the all-American themes and rhythmic patterns are unmistakably Gershwin. Alternately playful and soulful, the work’s first movement centers around a lively Charleston-rhythm theme; the slow movement, with its languid trumpet solos, embodies what Gershwin called “the poetic, nocturnal atmosphere. . .which has come to be referred to as the American blues”; and, as he described it, closes with a wildly energetic finale that Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Chie Nagatani enjoys an active career as a solo pianist, having received numerous top prizes and awards including the Grand Prize at the IBLA International Music Competition in Italy (with performances at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Tokyo’s Opera City Hall). Her piano duo (with pianist Timothy Durkovic) was awarded Best Duo Piano Performance at the IBLA competition as well as First Prize at the San Diego National Piano Duo Competition. Nagatani has also appeared as soloist with orchestras including the Burbank Philharmonic, Newport Symphony Orchestra and the USC Symphony. Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite contains some of the composer’s best-known and most beautiful melodies.
If you close your eyes, the music will vividly bring to mind the action of the play (by Henrik Ibsen, based on a Norwegian fairy tale). The lovely opening movement, “Morning,” is instantly recognizable as one of the most effective depictions of dawn in music, and you will surely picture dancing trolls during the familiar final movement, “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The concert opens with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #3 for strings alone. Splitting the violin, viola and cello sections into three parts each lends richness to the orchestra’s sound. It also means that you will be involved not only in listening but also in watching, as the themes pass from part to part like a sonic volleyball. PCO has been bringing fine classical music to the community for over 30 years. Concerts are free (donations are welcome at the door). Well-trained musicians provide a high-quality musical experience. First Church of the Nazarene is located at 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., one block west of Michillinda Ave. Parking is free and wheelchair accessible. Immediately following the concert, audience members will have the opportunity to meet the soloist and the other musicians at a reception (refreshments will be provided).
Concerts are made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, LA County Arts Commission, Pasadena Community Foundation, and Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.